Scientific Paper: On the Power Limits of an Axially Extracted Virtual Cathode Oscillator
Authors: Ernesto Neira , Felix Vega , Chaouki Kasmi and Fahad AlYafei
Researchers at the UAE’s Technology Innovation Institute (TII) have now launched improved designs for devices used in building powerful EMF beam devices. The Vircators, as they are called, work like microwave ovens, but generate much higher power. While microwaves generate 10,000 watts of power, Vircators can generate over 40 billion watts of power, albeit for brief periods.
Vircators can be useful in a variety of fields where a large quantity of electromagnetic energy is needed. This includes space communications, electromagnetic prospecting for oil surveying, EMF interference testing and medical applications.
Researchers have studied Vircators for years. However, these devices are not widely used owing to their high operating cost and low efficiency. A single Vircator device can cost well over US$200,000 to build. They often lose up to 90% of their power, in contrast to a microwave that manages to send most energy into warming or cooking your food.
Much work is still required to build efficient, practical devices. Ernesto Neira, Lead Pulsed Power Researcher at the Technology Innovation Institute, said: "Vircators present more questions than answers from a scientific point of view at the present time."
The low efficiency of existing Vircator designs limits their uptake, as also the lack of insight into the maximum power levels they are capable of reaching. Therefore, researchers are always on the lookout for a way to simulate a new design before building one. However, it often takes a few days to simulate the performance of one design and finding the combination with the highest power may require thousands of variations.
The new TII model allows them to identify the characteristics of a design with the higher power output in less than a second. This is similar to identifying the maximum speed obtainable with a specific engine across a range of different car configurations. Neira said: "This may allow us to leverage more powerful Vircators in the field in future."